Monday, March 1, 2010

Collaborative work spaces are new freelance option

The number of self-employed and freelance entrepreneurs has seen steady growth over the past two decades. As recently as 2007 the Small Business Administration estimated that there were more than 21 million self-employed entrepreneurs without employees in the United States.
Many are predicting that this number will swell as a result of the recession.

The traditional work spaces for the self-employed are coffee shops, cafes and home offices.

More recently a new alternative has emerged, called co-working spaces, where self-employed people and freelancers can come together in a common space. Unlike traditional executive suites, co-working spaces offer more than just space and office support. Co-working space usually has a very open environment that fosters interaction, collaboration and even shared work projects.

Co-working spaces are a good option for many startup entrepreneurs. They also can be a good option for small businesses looking to move from a home office. In an age of technology where it is so easy to become isolated, the co-working movement has drawn those who work independently but still seek to be a part of a stimulating community.

Co-working spaces are being established all around the country. Some of the early co-working spaces, such as Citizen Space in San Francisco and Indy Hall of Philadelphia, have led the way in this emerging alternative work space environment.

A new co-working space, called CoLab, recently opened on Fourth Avenue in downtown Nashville.

CoLab started with its first location in Orlando, Fla., about 18 months ago.

CoLab started as a side business for founder John Hussey of Orlando. Within 18 months, CoLab has outgrown the original floor it had leased and has added a second floor. With the growing success in Orlando, Hussey looked to open in a different city.

"When opening CoLab Orlando, I immediately thought it was a good fit for Nashville because it's an entrepreneurial town — the creativity of an up-and-coming town on the cutting edge," Hussey said.

Kailey Hussey, a recent graduate of Belmont University and John Hussey's daughter, is heading up CoLab in Nashville.

CoLab Nashville seeks to become a place for meetups, technology groups and entrepreneurs to come together for networking and collaboration.

Bootstrapping entrepreneurs seek ways to keep their overhead low, especially in these uncertain economic times. Co-working space may offer an alternative for entrepreneurs that helps keep the cost of space affordable for those trying to grow their businesses within a limited budget.

Jeff Cornwall is director of the Belmont University Center for Entrepreneurship and the Massey Chair in Entrepreneurship. He writes a column on issues facing new business owners and would-be owners. Contact: His daily blog can be seen at

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